History of Titusville, Pennsylvania
“The Valley that Changed the World”
Jonathan Titus first settled the Oil Creek valley where Titusville is now in 1796. It was first called Edinburgh but as the area grew it called Titusville in honor of Jonathan Titus. Timbering was the first industry, the success of which led to Titusville becoming incorporated as a borough in 1849.
The presence of oil seeps in the valley led to an effort to commercially extract oil. On August 27, 1859, Col. Edwin Drake, hired by the Seneca Oil Company, successfully drilled oil just south of Titusville. Oil extraction was a major industry for Titusville until about the 1890’s when the steel industry took over. Steel remained dominant until about the 1980’s.
Titusville, being known as the birthplace of the oil industry, has gained the reputation as the “Valley that Changed the World.” Because of the successful drilling of oil, many previously unknown industries took root such as the modern transportation system, plastics, and pharmaceuticals.
Information on Titusville, Pennsylvania can be found at the following websites:
Nearby Historic Attractions
- Drake Well Museum and Park: This museum is located at the original well, where Col. Edwin Drake drilled the first oil well in 1859. It is part of the Pennsylvania Trails of History.
- Pithole Ghost Town: Pithole is located to the east of the Titusville and is part of the Drake Well Museum. Information about Pithole is on the Drake Well website.
- Ida Tarbell House: This house is the childhood home of Ida Tarbell who most notably wrote the “History of Standard Oil” and a number of other works including a biography of Abraham Lincoln.
- Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad: Take a trip in a period train car through the “Valley that Changed the World.” The OC&T Railroad takes you through the Oil Creek Valley south of Titusville past Drake Well and to Petroleum Center.
- The historic houses of Titusville: Titusville contains many examples of Oil Boom Victorian architecture, which can be seen in the McMullen House neighborhood. Be sure to take advantage of the lantern tour given by the owners of McMullen House to learn more about them. Information on the houses can be found on the lantern tour page.